Those of you who have been reading this blog know I can go on for hours about how excruciating the making of The Pink House really was. I spent a year re-writing it, lugging scripts around in horizontal rain, and had probably the worst dry-reading of a screenplay since Elizabethan times. Still, I soldiered on, undeterred, powered by ego and buttressed by friendship.
We managed to raise just enough money to shoot the film, hire a couple of great indie stars, and brought hundreds of people together in North Carolina during one of the hottest weeks in history, to spend three weeks torturing ourselves. It was more harrowing than anything in “Project Greenlight,” worse by far than “Living in Oblivion.” We had a key member of the crew go off his rage medication and nearly killed two extras. Two different thunderstorms washed away the set, and a lightning bolt nearly killed the art department. Our lead actor broke his hand halfway through filming. It was called “The Pink House” and the actual Pink House wouldn’t let us inside to shoot. Slowly, one by one, we went crazy.
I know I’m repeating myself. Bear with me.
On the last day of shooting, the typhoon had shut down any outside filming, leaving us with five scenes unfilmed. Soaking wet, with hundreds of crew sheltering themselves under trees and inside cars, Tessa and I rewrote the scenes and shot them that evening. We had to suck it up and keep moving, even though it meant changing the ending of our film.
We finished principal photography at the end of August 2001. On the afternoon of September 10, 2001, we got our film and tapes back, and began to edit in Manhattan. A few hours later, well, whatever. You know what happened. Less people know that Tessa’s dad died a week later. In the ensuing chaos, and a hurried Christmas, we couldn’t start editing until February of 2002.
Every thing that could have gone wrong with our computers, did. We had to update Final Cut Pro three times. We discovered an entire reel of film had disappeared. We missed the deadlines for Toronto and Sundance. But still, the long (3-hour) edit of the movie was beginning to make us laugh. Somewhere, buried in stone like one of Michelangelo’s slaves, there was a pretty great movie hidden.
We ran out of money again, and took to the road to raise more. We had meeting after meeting with millionaires, and even a billionaire, but the world was reeling from the post-Sept. 11 aftermath, and investing in anything artistic, with even the faintest whiff of high risk, was almost non-existent. Again, we came back to New York thanks to benificence of one inspired investor, and carved out a fantastic edit of the movie. We showed it to an anonymous audience, who gave us a positive rating of 90%, almost unheard-of for a rough cut.
Emboldened, we bit the bullet and had a sneak screening of the rough cut to friends and family. Even though I knew there was one big flaw with the movie that needed fixing (more on that some other time), the reception we got was fantastic. I worked a couple of leads for investments afterwards, but then we got the greatest news of all: an angel had been at the screening, and they had come to rescue us. Our financial problems were over. The entire rest of the movie, everything, was now paid for.
In jubilation, we made plans. We set forth to fix a nagging problem with the film, dropped all our leads, and spent the last two months chomping at the bit. We could finish in time for another major festival, get the soundtrack settled, start a marketing campaign, gear up to sell this baby, start our careers as filmmakers in earnest.
We even made friends with our salvation, sharing our lives, sharing our friends. Two months of this pure bliss.
And it was a lie. A cruel, unbelievable, pathological lie. It was a fantasy from the get-go.
Tessa went into mourning, and I retreated into cold-weather hibernation. If it weren’t for Celexa and shots of espresso, I would have a foot-long beard and be living in a hole in the ground. It is one thing to do this to a company, or a faceless organization with millions of dollars, but to do this to us, an independent comedy production that already has EVERYTHING against us, was beyond the scope of heartlessness.
We will pick ourselves off the floor again, and start over. Any leads are appreciated, my beloved readers.
As for our betrayal, my lawyer says I can’t name names, and I will not divulge the particulars of what happened. But I believe some public accountability must be had. All I want is to put a few pictures on the blog, the faces of those who have worked so hard.